Iowa Republican announces Senate bid with Grassley's 2022 plans unclear

Iowa Republican state Sen. Jim Carlin launched his campaign to replace Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa), whose plans for the 2022 election remain unclear.

Carlin, a trial lawyer and Army veteran, became the first candidate from either party to announce his bid for the seat, without waiting for Grassley, 87, to make a decision about his future in the Senate, the Des Moines Register reported. 

"I appreciate [Grassley's] service, as anybody does," Carlin told the newspaper. "But I didn't get in the race to drop out."

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The 54-year-old presented himself as an ally to former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE during his first speech and targeted “the political class” for not looking into and holding hearings on the unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. 

"Right now, we face mammoth challenges from China, the disintegration of families, the decline of rural Iowa and the threat to free speech from big tech monopolies," he said, according to the Register. "I see some of these things as an assault on our freedom."

Grassley is in his seventh term as senator and will turn 89 in 2022 – the year Iowa will elect a senator for a six-year term. He told reporters earlier this month that a decision about whether he’d run for reelection is still “several weeks off.”

Grassley spokesperson Taylor Foy told The Hill in a statement that the "2022 campaign is still a long way off."

"There’s plenty of time for political campaigns in the next two years," Foy said. "For now, Senator Grassley is focused on serving Iowans and holding government accountable, as he’s always done."

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The senator’s grandson, Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley (R), told Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO 13 News on Sunday that he thinks his grandfather will run to keep his Senate seat. 

“As I sit here right now, I think my grandfather is going to be running for reelection and I have not been led to believe anything otherwise,” Pat Grassley, who is expected to join the race if his grandfather retires, said. 

“I think he’s running for reelection, so hopefully we won’t have to worry about that for a long time,” he added when asked if he would run to replace the senator. 

If Grassley declined to run in 2022, he would become the fifth Republican senator who plans to retire, along with Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrDemocratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (N.C.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Ohio).

--Updated at 7:46 p.m.